Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. 1 Corinthians 13:4 (NCV)

I like the way the KJV words this verse, “Charity [love] suffereth long”.

We don’t like to think of love and suffering in the same sentence. We’re taught when we are young that love is signified by a smile and a hug; a kind soft voice; warm chocolate cookies and milk.

Reality can set in far too early about love though. More and more of our children learn that love can end and sometimes, harshly. Mommy and Daddy used to say “I love you all the time…before the divorce.”

“My mommy says she loves me but she is never there when I call her and her boyfriend hits me all the time.”

“Friday he said he loved me, but it’s Monday and he says he doesn’t want me around anymore.”

Reality is, from a human perspective anyway, love isn’t the warm, fuzzy, eternally blissful thing we always dream of. Fairy tales end at the gates of Disney World and real live sets in harshly and quickly.

Too often we confuse love with passion rather than suffering; with comfort rather than conflict; with happiness rather than hardship. But love doesn’t have to be that way. True love, Godly love isn’t measured by fireworks and party hats.

Godly love determines, before you leave the house that the guy that cuts you off on the interstate isn’t invading your spot, you were saving it for him. Godly loves means that before you lash out at your child for forgetting an assignment AGAIN, you listen to their own pain and help them learn to make good choices. Godly love means that when the food comes to your table cold and late you notice the red eyes of the server and ask how her day is going.

Godly love isn’t easy love. Godly love gets taken advantage of; is unappreciated; suffers…long. Godly love endures constant disappointment, patiently works through rebellion and always puts the needs of the other person before your own.

People have had enough of the love the world offers. That person in the pew behind you at church, you know the one who never keeps her kids quiet, just may be at the end of her rope and needs understanding rather than judgment. That teenager with long hair and scruffy clothes may be making a statement that says ‘All I really want is to be noticed.’

How can you show Godly love today? Who will irritate you for the umpteenth time that may just need a smile rather than a rebuke? Before you act, measure your love for others according to God’s love for you. His love for you ‘suffers long’ and he asks the same from you.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for the way you love me. Thank you for the patience you’ve shown when I rebel, struggle or get impatient. Empower me with your Spirit to show others the great love you have shown me. In the loving name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

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